Electricity is one of the essential services Nigerians expect their government to provide for their daily use. No wonder why the Federal Government has, since 1999, committed billions of naira to the improvement of generation and transmission of electricity to different parts of Nigeria. However, the performance of this essential service throughout the country is not commensurate with the colossal amount of money already committed to its provision.
The demand for electricity by consumers in Nigeria is far above its supply. And this situation has affected industrial, business and domestic activities in the country. Fifty-six years after independence, it is not only appalling but vexatious to note that the entire country has not generated up to 5,000 MW of electricity for transmission to all parts of the country. It is high time patriotic Nigerians came up with realistic suggestions on how the generation and transmission of electricity could be boosted in the country.
In order to have an efficient generation and transmission of electricity in Nigeria, I suggest as follows:
The country should jettison the concept of National Grid and accept a more pragmatic approach at solving the problem of generation and transmission of electricity to all parts of Nigeria. As part of the approach, the country should stop the old practice of building gigantic centralised plants which are designed to transmit electricity. After using this old practice for several decades without the desired result, the country should, henceforth, adopt the distributive generation approach for the generation of power in small units where and when it is needed.
The electricity distribution companies we have in the country today are not getting adequate channels from the national grid. For instance, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) has expected a total of 969.6 megawatts (MW) from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for its areas of operation which include Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Kwara States. Of this number, it respectively received just 325.2 MW (i.e 34 per cent) for the period between September 19 and 25, 2016, 337.6 MW (i.e 35 per cent) from October 10 to 16, 2016 and 290.19 MW (i.e 30 per cent) from October 17 to 23, 2016. The aforementioned terribly low megawatts received by IBEDC is true of the other ten Electricity Distribution Companies in the country. When will the TCN be in a position to transmit appreciable megawatts to each of the existing distribution companies? Since the companies cannot give what they do not have, it will be difficult for them to guarantee 24-hour electricity supply to their numerous customers across the country.
The National Assembly should, without much delay, review the law on power generation and transmission. As of now, states are limited only to the generation of power without transmission to consumers. The states with private sector participation should be allowed to execute their respective independent power projects with a view to generating and transmitting electricity for their use. The states have, for many years, depended preponderantly on the monthly revenue allocation by FAAC. Ironically, the monthly allocation has reduced drastically in recent times. The states, more than ever before, should embark on aggressive industrialisation which can only be achieved with regular generation and distribution of electricity. Apart from industrialisation, the policy of generation and transmission of electricity by the states will also step up revenue generation for them from numerous electricity consumers.
Each state should be free to transmit whatever energy it is able to generate from its source of electricity which may be water (H.E.P), natural gas, coal, wind, solar energy, etc. Alternatively, a few contiguous states may pool their resources together in the provision of this service. For example, Shiroro Hydro-Electric Power Station can conveniently serve Niger State, Kaduna State and the entirety of Federal Capital Territory. The Kainji and Jebba H.E.P Stations can also serve some states that are not far from them.
Similarly, the thermal stations in different parts of the country should be made to serve the immediate and contiguous areas where these stations are located.
It is high time we realised in this country that there are some essential services that will perform better if handled by state governments than by the Federal Government. We strongly call on the Federal Government to assist the states financially in the generation and transmission of electricity for this country.
About a couple of years ago, the Federal Government approved the establishment of eleven electricity companies to distribute the supply of electricity to all parts of Nigeria. We saw the establishment of the companies as a new dawn. Two years after the companies have taken over from the PHCN, the situation on ground in the different distribution zones has not improved significantly. As of now, many customers of the different electricity distribution companies are paying for the poor services which the companies have rendered thus far. The prevailing situation of electricity in the different zones where the companies operate have made Nigerians doubt the capability of the companies to develop electricity to a commendable level.
After a critical review of the performances of the electricity distribution companies, many Nigerians have come to the conclusion that the companies cannot make Nigeria to realise its goal of making its citizens enjoy regular distribution of electricity.